Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Almost Ready for Work and Turnout!

Day 60 is this Friday, 4/3! Mikey is allowed to start light work and be turned out again.

Mikey's shoes were a concern this month. He was due to be reset on 2/9 (8 weeks), which we skipped because he just had surgery and being a little long would be fine to stand in his stall. When I took him back to OSU, I asked if it was ok to reset his shoes. OSU directed us to remove his hind shoes, and to not let the farrier do too much bending, or any pulling. My trainer and I weren't keen on pulling his hind shoes, Mikey had taken a liking to the support they gave and we weren't sure standing around was the time to remove support. We weren't concerned about the bending, our farrier is great and very conscious of injuries and not making them worse. She consulted with him, and said he agreed with OSU. As he put it, "I can fix the hoof if it breaks down, but I can't fix the hock." He was not concerned about the bending either, he could do it with minimal bending, but he was more concerned about the pounding that happens when he nails in the shoe. He pulled Mikey's hind shoes around 3/16 and trimmed and reset his fronts (13 weeks after his last shoeing... nothing we could do about that though) and he'll put them back later in the year when Mikey's workload merits it. I don't know why, but the loss of his hind shoes upsets me- like it's a nail in the coffin that holds our old competition and riding goals.

Mikey is getting better, and he certainly feels good. He's taken to bucking and squealing and trying to kick his stall down every morning. He gets yelled at, has the decency to look contrite, then bucks and squeals when you've left the aisle. When you come back, he puts on his cute "It wasn't me, Mom!" face and there's nothing you can do to stop him.

How can you be mad at that face?
He's worked everyone over. He just stands there and looks sweet with his head hanging out of his stall, and he gets love and treats and pats. Spoiled rotten.

I took this video on 3/21, walking in a small circle around me outside on the driveway because no one else was around that could walk and trot him for me. I think his right hock looks good, bending just as much as the left. He started on the OCD pellets that day.

About two steps after the video ended he squealed and bucked a few times until I got him back under control. Sigh.

He hand walks for about 20 minutes every day, and he now walks with a chain over his nose because he can't be trusted to walk politely anymore. I walked him twice in the evening last week and he got to calling (which he never does), then started letting loose little quiet squeals, and eventually blew up. I got the chain, put it over his nose, and he quieted immediately. I don't even have to engage it.

We had some lovely weather this past Sunday, so I walked Mikey outside. He got all excited, tried to buck and pull away from me, jerked himself into his stud chain and then was like, "What the hell?!?!" and quieted down and was a gentleman to walk after that. A very alert gentleman, but good about keeping out of my space and all four feet on the ground. We meandered around the gravel part of the property, walking up a hill to the first of the two outdoors. I let him have a good look around before walking him back down the hill.

It finally occurred to me that I could hand graze him! Doh, I don't know why I didn't think of it when I had him outside for the few outdoor walks I've had him on. Probably because he's only allowed to walk for a short time, so I assumed I had to put him back in his stall. He moves around in his stall, and he moves a little as we hand graze, but I bet it's similar.

Happy horse!
He was a very happy camper. I had to put him away so I could set jumps for my trainer so she could jump Cody and get a good school in, but I took him back out while we were trying to pass the time before bringing the horses in. It was too nice a day to bring them in around 3, so they stayed out until about 4:30.

Our plan for introducing him back to turnout has changed many times. The only thing we've kept with every idea is that he must go back to work first and do some work over his back before he's allowed back out. Here's our ideas, as we thought them up, then promptly ditched them:
  1. Ace him for the first day and turn him out in a 24' square temporary fencing. We ditched the small area because if he runs and bucks, he's just going to turn hard when he hits the fenceline. Then we ditched the Ace idea in general because if he's loopy and tries bucking around he might kick or misjudge something, and fall. Remember, with drugs comes poor decisions!
  2. Turn all the horses out, do a half day outside with exercise in the morning, then hand walking all the way out to where his old herd eats hay at the top of a big hill. Tossed this one simply because he'd stir up the herd and get them running up and down their big hill.
  3. Keep him in for another month and put him to work for that month. Let him heal more and work more, then put him out May 1. We got rid of this one as it was a lot of work on our end, more hand walking at a minimum, and probably more work that he should do, and the work wouldn't be hard enough to get his energy out anyway.
  4. Turn out with a horse that's part of a 2 horse herd where the second horse was leaving. They'd share a 1 acre flat field. This one got the boot because the other horse is also an excitable Thoroughbred who will run if Mikey runs, and then they'd run each other, and Mikey might get kicked as they played.
If you haven't figured it out, my trainer and I are both terrified to put him back outside. She knows how much I've spent to fix him, and she does really care about him. She knows how much he bucks and plays when he hasn't been locked up for two months. She doesn't want a pasture accident to undo all the good healing that she's worked hard to get. I also care about those things, but I trust her to do what she thinks is best.

We settled on this: I'll work him lightly Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday morning this weekend. I'll already be out Friday and Saturday since I'm helping take care of the horses while she's at The Fork 3*, and Sunday my husband and I will be driving past as we come home from his parent's house, and then I took a half vacation day on Monday so I didn't have to pay someone to work him. Monday after he works, we'll turn him out in the indoor to get his bucks and running out on good soft, solid, ultra flat footing, and then turn him out in the 1 acre flat field with King. King is an ultra fat, ultra hairy, unflappable older pony who's goal in life is to eat as much as possible. He won't kick or partake in running like a fool.

I am not going to be sitting on him this Friday. Or Saturday. Or Sunday. Maybe Monday. We taught him to long line before his surgery, so I think I will start there. I know he'll buck and play, but I'm not about to let him buck me off (so no sitting on him), and he won't be able to carry on as much as he would if I popped him on the lunge line. I might see about attaching a chain to one line and hooking it over his nose, just in case he gets out of hand. I hate to match up stuff like that, but he is absolutely not allowed to jump around like a fool. Maybe I can dig up a western curb chain and put it loosely over his nose. I rode a jumper pony that went around like that. So if he started to get out of hand, I can pull back a touch harder and shut it down.

A new Dover Saddlery store opened about an hour from my house on 3/26, so I went there a couple times last week as I thought up stuff that would be great to get on super sale. I don't normally buy from them because they are way too expensive and my usual tack shop sells the same thing for much less. I did order a new surcingle from Dover though, which I'll be picking up in store sometime this week. They don't stock the Cadence Surcingle in that store, but it can be shipped (for free) from one of their other stores to this one, so I don't have to order online and pay ridiculous shipping. My old one is nylon and neoprene and does the job, but it doesn't have the shoulder blocks and turns sometimes. Between that and the girth biting me every time I girth him up (cheap nylon), I decided a new one was in order, especially if I was going to spend a bit of time on the ground with him.

All black, and made of leather and web. Yay!
I will keep you all posted on his progress!


  1. Omg! SO EXCITING!

    Pig is barefoot. I know shoes would help his movement, but we just can't. So don't worry, you'll do fine without hinds. :)

    Turnout is hard when they are hard players. The fat pony is probably the best bet! Fingers crossed for you!

    1. I found your barefoot shoeing posts earlier today! You're much braver than I am to trim Pig yourself! If Mikey went barefoot all the time, I'd do what you're doing. I'd learn how to wrasp properly and do it myself. I know he'll do fine without his hind shoes, and they're not gone forever since he doesn't have an issue like Pig's, but I'm still sad to see them go. My wallet is happy for the temporary reprieve though!

      I'm so excited to have my boy back, and I think turning him out with the pony will be the best bet too. No shenanigans from other horses!